Matthew: One of the trends I see as potentially happening is hybrid medications of cannabis or a compound of cannabis with the tradition pharmaceutical. What role do you see Big Pharma and Big Tobacco having in the cannabis legalization landscape over the next few years?
Anthony: Well I see a dominant role. I think your question about the pharmaceutical industry, I agree with you 100 percent. There’s a lot of people out there that actually believe that cannabis is going to change the way that the world works when it comes to what is medicine and how medicine is distributed, all those sorts of related issues. I would argue that that is fool hearty and I would suggest that cannabis will fit to the way that the world has structured itself, with respect to how medicines are dealt with, regulated and distributed and otherwise. And then you just take a look at who controls the majority of what fits on the shelves when you walk into a pharmacy somewhere to buy your medicines or your doctor prescribes it or whatever it might be. And what you find, of course, are that there are again what I mentioned a few minutes ago. There tend to be a fairly small number of very large corporations at the end of the day who dominate the landscape in any given sector.
In the pharmaceutical industry it’s no different. If anybody really believes that some little tiny company out of wherever it might be is going to boot Pfizer or Roche or any of these other companies off the shelf anytime soon in extremely valueable markets, I think that’s kind of a fool hearty thing to believe. I believe what you said, and I agree with that entirely, there will be pharmaceutical companies who will pull certain molecules from the cannabis plant and utilize them as part of the makeup of existing drugs, in many cases.
I mean if you look at a company that has seven years left on a patent for some specific medication that cannabis may be able to be beneficial in that particular sector, that market, that niche, if you will, it’s clearly in their advantage to reformulate with slight modifications and file a new patent around the new modification. The trend in the pharmaceutical industry is towards more of a buy it bio-pharma make-up. I mean, that’s obvious as well. That’s factual. It has a lower period of time to get to market for the new products. It’s less costly, but still very costly, and that’s the other issue here.
I mean, at the end of the day the FDA, DMA, HealthCanada, all these different organizations, some of us may know what regulatory democracy is, and regulatory democracy, for those who don’t know, is really built on the shoulders of those large corporate interests that dominate the landscape in any given sector. The regulatory hurdles that are put in place are, yes, they appear to be very onerous for them and for anyone else in the industry, but the reality is they’re really putting barriers between themselves and anyone else who would try to become competition to them because they can handle the financial costs. They have the ability through their consultants and their lobbyists and otherwise to move things along through the process.
They also have the ability to make sure that other things don’t get moved along through the process that could be a threat or otherwise. So I don’t see anything changing in the medicinal marketplace, with respect to who it is that’s dominating the shelves or the prescription pads of the medical community at large, but I also, back to your point again, do see the pharmaceutical industry recognizing the power that comes from harnessing some molecules, CBD or THC or whatever it might be, from within the cannabis plant and incorporating it into some of their existing formulations or perhaps developing entirely new formulations. Definitely I would not be betting significant amounts of capital on companies that were professing to be the new drug company in the game.
If they are fortunate enough to take something far enough, I would suggest eventually if it’s a big enough market and there’s enough money in it, they’ll be swallowed up by that large pharmaceutical company anyway, which is typically how that works. And those are big homeruns. If you’re part of one of those, by all means, fantastic, but at least I know from our perspective, we’d be more interested in supplying the molecules than trying to develop the formulations ourselves.